Sainz: ‘Deeper conversation’ coming over defending

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz up close. Mexico November 2021

Carlos Sainz says Formula 1 must have a “deeper conversation” in the post-season as to where exactly the limit is for the drivers when it comes to defending.

Max Verstappen courted controversy at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix when he ran Lewis Hamilton off the track at Turn 4 while defending the lead, both drivers going wide.

The stewards opted not to investigate while Mercedes’ request for a right to review that decision was denied.

Many of the drivers, including Hamilton, have voiced their confusion over that decision as, earlier in the year at the Austrian Grand Prix, several drivers were slapped with penalties for forcing a rival off the track.

FIA race director Michael Masi insists the rules are crystal clear.

“We’ve given them some overall guidance, but also been very clear on the fact that each and every case will be judged on its merits,” he said.

“Everyone tries to sort of blanket incidents and say, that’s all the same, and that’s all the same, but they’re not.

“The analysis that goes into each and every incident is exactly that, having a look at all the circumstances on the day.”

And therein lies the confusion for the drivers, and many fans, as what makes Austria different to Brazil.

Sainz has called for talks with Masi and co.

“In terms of racing approach it’s not very clear still,” he said as per Motorsport.com.

“I think you’ve heard us already talk about this because we don’t know exactly what is going to happen race by race.

“But as I said to the media, it looks like in the winter there’s going to be a deeper conversation about the way that we go racing that hopefully should clarify things a bit more.”

As the confusion amongst the drivers as to what is legal and what isn’t continues, Sainz’s Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc highlighted the issue when he told the media that if what Verstappen did was okay, that means the rest of the field have the right to include that in their future defensive moves.

“You always need to adapt to every situation, every decision the stewards are doing,” he recently said.

“As soon as I knew it wasn’t a penalty for Max in Austria [in 2019], I went to Silverstone and I changed my driving.

“So I think that’s a bit the same for every driver. We will always try to race at the limits of what we are allowed to do. And that’s what I will do in case these things are allowed.”

 

He added: “Whatever is allowed, I just want it to be clear as a driver. That’s the only thing that matters to me.

“If this is allowed, then overtaking around the outside will be very difficult.”

 

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